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Miserable Kenny Dalglish never stood a chance in Toon

By Lee Ryder on Mar 29, 12 08:44 AM


As painful as the Kenny Dalglish era was for Newcastle United fans - the Scot never really stood a chance from the minute he stepped into his office at St James' Park.

Replacing a Messiah, can't be easy can it?

And if you are a determined figure like Dalglish - who is only used to being adored by fans no matter what decision you make in football - a combination of his own stubborn outlook on how the job should be done and filling the massive void left by Kevin Keegan was almost going to be the impossible job.

Kenny inherited the best team I have ever seen play in my lifetime at St James' Park.

It had everything you want to see as a fan of attacking and exciting football.

Two full-backs in John Beresford and Steve Watson who love to bomb on.

A defender in Phillipe Albert who loved to get forward and join in attacks.

Then you had poor old Darren Peacock - our defender.

He often had David Batty for company just in front of him.

And then there was Keith Gillespie, Rob Lee and David Ginola in midfield to assist Gods such as Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Tino Asprilla and Les Ferdinand who didn't need lessons in how to find the back of the net.

OK, Newcastle never won anything under Keegan.

But even now, with the team in sixth place, we're still remembering.

We are still comparing what could be another European campaign to that night Antwerp or that night in Metz - I even heard somebody mention the Mexican wave that went up at 3-0 against Athletic Bilbao.

Remember that?

When in typical fashion, Newcastle surrendered a 3-0 lead to go out on away goals?

Oops, there I go again.

Basically that's what Dalglish was up against.

He had to try to turn the tide and make Newcastle into a trophy challenging team - like he did at Blackburn and Liverpool - but do it to a backdrop where fans expected entertainment, goals and wins.

He was never going to succeed in the space of less than two years.

Dalglish never did himself any favours though.

He was everything that Keegan wasn't.

Where Keegan loved to spend time with the fans and come out with pleasing quotes after games, Dalglish hates the media and even now fails to see that this is his only real connection to the fans.

Keegan might not like the media either, but he certainly knows how to use them.

Dalglish hardly helped himself by selling the crowd pleasers.

If anything he was too hasty in trying to stamp his own mark on the team.

Selling Ginola, Asprilla, Beardsley, Lee Clark, Beresford and Ferdinand was bad enough.

Replacing them with Des Hamilton, Garry Brady and veterans Ian Rush, John Barnes and Stuart Pearce was crazy.

Dalglish did lead Newcastle to the Champions League in 1997 as they finished second place.

Why didn't he just add to a side that were already built to challenge for the title?

Instead Newcastle slumped to 13th in the table.

They did reach the FA Cup final in 1998 but the moment they faces a team of any real standard they were swept aside and Arsenal were always destined to take the cup that year.

He got two games at the start of the next season in 1998.

Two draws, one against 10 man Charlton and then a decent 1-1 away draw at Chelsea when Toon flop Andreas Andersson fittingly scored in his final game - when it was too little, too late.

Dalglish was sacked.

The crown on his head - put there by Liverpool and Blackburn fans - fell off and rolled down Barrack Road.

In trying to do it the Liverpool way at Newcastle, he only succeeded in tearing apart the club's greatest team in modern history.

That's why while Dalglish will always be one of Merseyside's favourite sons, the mere mention of his name in Newcastle results in people generally twisting their face.

And that's why he won't be getting a warm welcome back to St James' Park when he brings Liverpool to Tyneside on Sunday.

Amen.

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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